Published with permission from the guide book: Mellow Mountain Trails Hiking Guide to Colorado’s Upper Arkansas River Valley
by Nathan Ward.
Fooses Creek – Colorado Trail
This hike starts at Fooses Lake and follows a rough road up the Fooses Creek drainage toward the Continental Divide. It’s an easy walk through pine forests and the road is also a section of the Colorado Trail. You can catch nice trout in Fooses Lake too. The lake is actually a small man-made reservoir built to create power at the hydroelectric plant below the lake. Fooses Creek is one of two units of the Salida Hydroelectric Project. The Fooses Lake plant was built in 1906 and continues operating today.
South Fooses Creek Trail – if you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle, you can drive the rough road described in this hike and start your hike at the South Fooses Creek Trailhead. Be sure you turn left on CR 225C to the trailhead. South Fooses Creek is a pretty singletrack winding through the forest and climbs up to the Continental Divide. The South Fooses Creek Trailhead is located at N38°31.37, W106°16.55. Park by the trailhead sign and start hoofing it. The Continental Divide is approximately 6 miles one-way from the South Fooses Creek Trailhead. It’s a nicer hike than the 2WD option, so if you have a truck, go for it.
Trailhead Access & Facilities
From the junction of US 50 and US 285 in Poncha Springs, turn north and stay on US 50 west up Monarch Pass for 9.5 miles. Turn left on CR 225 – the sign is small. Drive down a dirt road toward Fooses Lake. Stay left at the bottom of the first hill. Look for a parking area just before reaching the lake.
There is a pit toilet at the lake.
Location: Downtown Salida
Distance: 4 Miles – Out & Back
Hiking Time: 2 Hours
Best Months: Year-Round
Trail Type: Paved Walking Trail
Dog Friendly: Yes. Dogs Must Be on Leash.
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 7,121; High Point 7,191; Climbs/Descends 70
Land Status: City/County, Private Land
Maps: Salida Trail System – Available at outdoor shops & Salida Chamber of Commerce
Note: Many other people use this trail – some on bicycles that will move faster than you. Keep your eyes open and please be friendly to everyone on the trail.
0.0 Trailhead – Walk west from the parking area, uphill to Fooses Lake on CR 225. Elevation 9,025 ft. (N38 32.43, W106 14.71)
0.2 Fooses Lake.
0.3 USFS toilet on the left with a South Fooses Creek sign just afterwards.
0.8 One road, then another, splits off to the right. Don’t take either one; stay left on CR 225.
1.2 Road to the right, don’t take it.
1.4 Road to the right, don’t take it.
2.2 This is the turnaround point – at a sign pointing left to CR 225C and the South Fooses Creek Trail/ Colorado Trail. Elevation 9,616 ft. (N38 31.45, W106 16.57)
If you want to hike farther, turn left on CR 225C and follow it to the South Fooses Creek Trailhead and walk the singletrack line as far as you want. If you’ve had enough, turn around and follow the road back to Fooses Lake.
4.4 Back at the trailhead.
The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.
If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.
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